Sunday, March 20, 2011

Taos as Muse, Revisted


This week I'll be back in Taos, New Mexico for my 6th Yoga as Muse Workshop and Retreat.
To celebrate while I'm off renewing and reviewing, I'm re-posting part of last year's interview with Jeff Davis.

Welcome back, Jeff! This week I want to ask you about your book, Journey from the Center to the Page.

Jeff: The first section of the book introduces readers to what I call The Four Preparations:

          • Write with intention
          • Show up and shape time
          • Stoke the writer's fire
          • Ride the wave of concentration

The second second section helps writers learn to pay attention to different creative faculties - imagination, deep memory, intuition - in tandem with very specific facets of craft - imagery and detail, syntax, metaphor, dialog. I hope that writers experience craft in a whole new context.

The third chapter consider emotional crags - writing the truth, dealing with the inner heckler, writing beyond trauma.

And the fourth section addresses a variety of issues from revising to forming writers' groups to teaching Yoga as Muse in the academy to engaging Yoga As Muse for artists and dancers.

Each chapter acts like a sort of shapely essay (I hope) that interweaves a topic relevant to a writer with clear examples from writers as and specific yogic tools and philosophies. Several chapters include specific exercises that help writers begin the practice.

Amber: Can you learn this practice from a book?
Jeff: Although I had doubts, several writers email me from around the world to tell me how the book works for them. A writer last week emailed me to say that the book helped her finish her first novel. That's rewarding to me.

Yoga As Muse specifically is a way to help writers and artists become aware of their embodied mind's nuances so they can become their own muses. They don't have to wait for some mysterious muse to show up each blue moon wearing angel wings and blowing a golden trumpet. Those inspired moments - like a Miles Davis impromptu solo - require a lot of practice. Yoga As Muse offers that practice.

Amber: Tell me about the Yoga as Muse.

Jeff: The workshops and retreats immerse writers in this work. They typically focus on a specific theme relevant to writers (and sometimes artists) such as compassion or truth. I always ground the workshops and retreats in readings from contemporary writers. It's crucial for writers to read and to learn to read as writers (that's my old teacher talking, but it's true).

In the mornings, we practice yoga and also have Yoga As Muse sessions that generate new writing from the yoga. In the afternoons, we share our writings and discuss facets of craft. We usually conclude with a celebratory reading by the participants. What's beautiful about these events is that inevitably first-timers arrive with some secret trepidation: Is my writing good enough? Do I belong here? I'm no good at yoga. Usually, that stuff gets dispelled within the first 15 minutes.

Every one - including me - is a beginner who learns from everyone else present. Aspiring writers and writers who have published multiple books attend and support each other. Non-yogis and yoga teachers alike show up.

Thanks Jeff, for offering your work to writers who will benefit by bringing yoga into their writing and taking their writing to the mat. Namaste.

Photograph of Jeffery Davis in Taos by Amber Polo
Photograph of Amber Polo in Taos by Jeffery Davis
Photograph of Amber's window in Taos by Amber Polo

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